The Empath Chronicles will continue!

This year, I am returning to writing.

And the first place I’m starting, is writing more stories in the Empath Chronicles!

So far, I’m planning two more main novella-to-novel length books in the series that will continue Livvy’s story, and also 2-3 more short stories that will explore side characters the way Emotionally Scarred explored Emma’s past. It’s fun when you get so excited by side characters that whole stories spring to mind for them. Sway is a character that’s a bit like that. You’ll be getting to meet her in the next main book Emotionally Unstable, and also her own short story Emotionally Disturbed.

Emotionally Unstable and Emotionally Powerful are the *current* titles for the two main stories that are coming next. Each of them will probably be twice the length of Emotionally Charged the way they are panning out so far. I’ve already begun writing Emotionally Unstable and you can see my current progress on the chart below.

Empath Chronicles 2 - Emotionally Unstable
Phase:Writing
34%

You might have also noticed that the Empath Chronicles books have brand new cover art! I figured it was about time I did properly illustrated covers for these, and I can’t wait to create designs for the next books.

Emotionally Scarred

Buy now!
Emotionally Scarred
Emotionally Charged

Emotionally Unstable

Buy now!
Emotionally Unstable

Part of finishing up the series also means getting to work on side productions, like audiobooks. Emotionally Charged has just been finished! Em Eldridge, who narrated the Memory’s Wake trilogy for me, is back again for this series. It has a different accent and tone, being a different genre and character. I love the voice she’s given Livvy and this story, have a listen below.

Out now on Amazon and Audible.

Are you excited to find out what happens next to Livvy and Dean after the events of Emotionally Charged? Do you like the new cover art? Are you an audio book fan?

Souvenirs volés – The Memory’s Wake French (français) Translation

I feel as though I should be writing this blog post in French, because it’s all about the French translated edition of Memory’s Wake. But I would be relying entirely all too much on Google Translate for that. What I can do, though, is paste in what my French publisher, Editions Du Chat Noir, have on their page about this edition.

Perdue dans un monde aux fééries monstrueuses, une ado troublée doit découvrir qui elle est et pourquoi ses souvenirs ont été volés, avant d’être rattrapée par ceux qui veulent sa mort.

Elle se choisit le nom de « Memory » et n’a plus qu’un seul but : retrouver le chemin de sa maison où qu’elle puisse être. Mais ces contrées sont étranges, aucune technologie à l’horizon et l’acier est banni, en raison d’un pacte entre les humains et les créatures magiques qui cohabitent dans ce royaume aux codes du passé. Avec son t-shirt et son jean déchiré, Memory sait qu’elle est différente.

Hantée par son passé, chassée par un dragon, désirée par le roi et suivie par un mystérieux et beau sauvage qui semble la connaitre, tout le monde est après elle ; et elle suspecte que ce n’est pas juste pour sa tenue décalée. Sa mémoire perdue renferme de dangereux secrets qui remettront en cause tout ce qu’elle connait et menaceront tous ceux qu’elle aime.

Découvrez la trilogie événement venue d’Australie, écrite et illustrée par Selina Fenech.

I’m so excited to have my novel translated into another language so that it can be read by more people around the world!

It can be ordered directly from the publisher- Order Now

Their paperback version is gorgeous, with special spot gloss patterns on the cover.

selina

Memory’s Wake Trilogy Audio Books

Production for audio books of all three novels in my Memory’s Wake trilogy is now complete. It’s been a wonderful experience creating these with narrator Em Eldridge. Hearing my stories brought to life is amazing, and there were lots of moments while listening through during production where I had to stop and wonder, “Wow, I wrote that?!” Maybe it’s the narration that makes it so much more alive, but I’m feeling really proud of this story right now. And it made me miss the characters so much *sniff*

Here’s a teaser video I created with some snippets from all three of the Memory’s Wake books-

You can get all three books individually through Audible or Amazon, or get them as a box set all together for a great price! Audible members can get the books as part of their subscription, and ebook readers can get a huge discount on the price through the WhisperSync program on Amazon.

 

Providence Unveiled – The Memory’s Wake Trilogy is Complete

After many years of work, the Memory’s Wake trilogy is now complete! Providence Unveiled has been released, ending the tale of Memory, her friends, and the land of Avall.

Just when she is finding herself, Memory is about to lose everything. Home, friendship, family, goals, love… Memory will break all the rules to try and save what is important to her, but her actions are being manipulated by a dark force toward a dark end. Worlds will be broken, love will be stolen, and sacrifices will be made.

In this final novel of the Memory’s Wake trilogy, the truth will be unveiled.

Take a gander at the AWESOME animated trailer!


Thanks to Lydia Kurnia for that amazing song, custom written for the book!

On the 30th I had a fantastic release party over on Facebook with a heap of lovely people. If you missed it, you can still stop in and read over some of the conversations and watch some funny videos of me here- https://www.facebook.com/events/334215176766187/ 

Reviews for the final novel are already coming in, and I’m SO HAPPY that people are enjoying it! Seriously, I was freaking out a little. Finishing a story is hard, and I wanted to have a great end to this. The ebook is still on sale until the end of February- http://www.amazon.com/Providence-Unveiled-Memorys-Wake-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00SMS6B00/ 

PU_Cover_3D

Thanks to everyone who helped Providence Unveiled break three Amazon Best Seller lists during its launch week!

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Have you finished the trilogy yet? What did you think?

 

Free and Sale books from Selina’s Author Friends

Need more to read? Let me introduce my friends!


At the end of 2014, I joined an writer’s group with some lovely and talented local authors I had met at events throughout the year. These ladies are seriously awesome writers and it’s been fantastic to be part of a group with them!

Would you like to get to know them too?

Well, the best way to get to know an author, is through their books! So below, I’m going to post a little information about each author, AND links to their ebooks that are either FREE or on sale!

Laura L Hunter


Laura is a powerhouse of an author. Still so young and she has about 12+ books out! Be sure to follow the links for her website to find out more, but this series is a great one to get started on.

Archangels are extinct and the world is now inhabited by a half-human/half-angel race called Nephilim. But it’s been told that one Archangel remains – a child born of fire only known as The Legend.

21-year-old Nephilim Scarlett Porter is about to start her Angel training at the infamous Blackbell Academy, so she doesn’t have time to worry about dreams of mysterious dark angels. The last thing she expected was her dream angel to be Dyston Blackbell or that finding her was part of his mission – a mission Dyston is prepared to fail to keep Scarlett and the secret of who she is safe.

But, danger is closer to Dyston and Scarlett than they realize.

War is brewing, led by a group of Nephilim called The Lucifites, and they need The Legend to carry out their plans. With the help of their friends, the two must find the leader of the Lucifites and stop his plans for destruction. But will Dyston and Scarlett’s love survive what’s coming? How far will Scarlett go to save those she cares about the most?

laurabooks

The first book in the series is FREE here- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KYAZKU6/

Find out more about Laura and her books at-

web: https://llhunterauthor.wordpress.com/ 

amazon: http://www.amazon.com/L.L.-Hunter/e/B00B2B701I/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/LL-Hunter/

Kim Last


I read Kim’s book Fall For Me long before I knew her. Angels and vampires and kick-ass action, what’s not to love?

A battle is raging. Blood will be shed. Lives will be lost, and friendships will be tested.

One angel’s decision will change everything, and one vampire’s secret will tear them all apart.

Some rules are made to be broken.

Sacrifice is free at most online retailers-

Amazon US http://amzn.to/15r6z5l – Amazon Aus http://bit.ly/1wmk900 – Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1CtGOfe

iBooks http://bit.ly/17Zbigd – B&N http://bit.ly/1qcvYIo – Smashwords http://bit.ly/1yPMkZG – Kobo http://bit.ly/1ADeKE1

Fall For Me is 0.99c at Amazon for one more week

Amazon US http://amzn.to/1wmkorY – Amazon Aus http://bit.ly/15n6ujR – Amazon UK http://amzn.to/17Zbqwp

Fight For Me released January 17 and is available at most online retailers!

Find out more about Kim and her books at

Website: www.kalastbooks.com.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KALastBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kalastbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KALast

Lauren McKellar


Lauren writes in contemporary young adult rather than paranormal/fantasy like most of us, but her work was good enough even to tempt me away from my fantasy preferences! I’ve read her book Finding Home and loved it.

The Crazy in Love series covers a group of new adults learning how to live their lives, falling in love and coping with loss. Written with the intention of making you feel, these three books cover the late teen years of Kate and her best friend Stacey—and the whole lot of crazy that can happen when you walk out of those school doors.

THE PROBLEM CRAZY: FREE till January 28:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-problem-with-crazy-lauren-k-mckellar/1118627272?ean=2940148211532

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/problem-crazy-crazy-in-love/id821400217?mt=11

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Problem-With-Crazy-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B00IFH4NI0/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_img_4

Find out more about Lauren and her books at –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurenkatemckellar

Website: www.laurenkmckellar.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/laurenkmckellar

Tsu: www.tsu.co/laurenkmckellar

Stacey Nash


Stacey’s novel Forget Me Not is the last I read, not counting re-reading my own of course! It was a such an intriguing and unique world she’s created around secret magic-like advanced technology. But I have to say I’m absolutely Team Will, and not just because he shares names with my own Will!

The Collective Series follows the journey of seventeen-year-old Anamae Gilbert as she discovers a huge secret that has been kept from the general population. Advanced technology capable of cloaking the human form, teleporting individuals, and allowing people to speak directly into one another’s minds exists and is used around us. Every single day. The head of the hidden organization responsible for this massive cover up sets her in his targets and Anamae struggles to keep herself and her loved ones safe.

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The first book is currently on 99c Sale at

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1Q9NA6

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/forget-me-not/id881490143?mt=11 – Googleplay: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781460704004+&c=books

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forget-me-not-nash-stacey/1119538120?ean=9781460704004 – Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/forget-me-not-67

Find out more about Stacey and her books at-

web: http://www.stacey-nash.com/

twitter: https://twitter.com/staceynash

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StaceyLeeNash

And how about 101 new authors to sample for FREE?


I am proud to be part of this amazing anthology of indie authors, 101 of us in fact! Including Hugh Howey, which as you can imagine had me fangirling at being in the same book as ^_^
You can get these 101 short stories from 101 authors for FREE here- http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Go-Very-Short-Authors-ebook/dp/B00R1GECO6/

Free Short Story- Wild

Written in the flash fiction style, which means a story no longer that 1000 words – about 2-3 pages – in length, “Wild” is a nice quick taste of my writing. This story is exactly 985 words in length. Writing this short is a real challenge, to get in the details of the story but also keep it very concise enough to meet the word target.

“Wild” is about a couple of kids, a rough girl and the new boy at school with a strange sleeping disorder, and how the girl helps the boy recover and the bizarre consequences of his recovery. It was based on a wild dream I had once! I hope you enjoy it.

short-wild

 

Wild


Tilly kicked Donny Dunham in the shin before he could add balls to the incomplete design drawn on the slumbering new kid’s face.

“Watch out!” his crony said. “She’s wild.”

Tilly snatched the black marker and the boys went back to their seats laughing. People ought to defend themselves, Tilly knew, but the new kid was sick. Had doctor’s certificates and everything.

James, the new kid, stirred, lifting his head off his desk. He blinked at the marker and then at Tilly.

“You’ve got something on your face,” Tilly said.

“So do you,” said James.

Tilly pressed a tiny fist against the yellowed bruise on her cheek. “It’s nothing.”

Tilly went back to her seat in time for the teacher to return and James to fall asleep again. Mrs. Bitterwood harrumphed about narcolepsy and unknown fatigue syndromes then quickly had a nurse escorting James out and on his way home. Discovering James had left his homework behind, Mrs. Bitterwood asked Tilly to take it round after school since she lived on the same street. Tilly pulled a face but agreed. She didn’t want to get into trouble. Again.

***

Tilly jammed the brakes of her bike and skidded on the gravel driveway. The dust blackened her school socks and swirled onto her tongue as she panted for breath. She spat on the new kid’s lawn. Tilly spied through the kitchen window and saw James’s mom. The woman was grinding up white tablets and sprinkling the powder onto mashed potatoes. Tilly shrugged. She hated swallowing tablets too.

The doorbell rang a Christmas carol despite being March. James’s mother called for him to get it. James stumbled to the front door, eyes half closed and brown hair looking like a tangle of tarantulas.

Tilly thrust his homework at him.

“Thanks,” James said. “You’re nice.”

“Ain’t nice. I’m rough and filthy and rude and a wild thing. It’s what Dad says.”

James poked the doormat with his toes and Tilly played with a hole in her shirt.

“James! Dinner!” his mom called.

His lip pulled up unattractively. “Ugh. I always feel worst after eating.”

Tilly frowned. “Can I come in? I gotta piss.”

James’s mother appeared. “Don’t you live just down the street?”

“Puh-lease? I’m gonna bust my bladder.” Tilly hopped on the spot.

Given directions, Tilly ran into the house while James and his mom sat down for dinner. She went left where she was told right and dug through unpacked moving boxes and cupboards until she found a massive stash of medication. She read a few labels. Experimental use. Not released for human trials. One had dosages meant for horses.

On the way out Tilly emptied the mom’s wallet.

***

The next day, Tilly sat down next to James under the schoolyard oak tree. He woke up when she jabbed a finger into his ribs.

“You always been sick?”

“Couple years maybe. Was eight when I started getting weird dreams and blacking out. Now I’m just sleepy all the time.”

“You take pills for it?”

James reached into his backpack and retrieved a rattling container, grinning wickedly. “Just these. Mostly I sell them to other kids.”

Tilly smiled, showing her crooked teeth. “Share my lunch with me? I made it myself. Bet it won’t make you feel sick.”

***

Tilly and James shared her lunch every day after that. Tilly made extra peanut butter and banana sandwiches for James to take home and eat instead of dinner. It took less than a fortnight before James stopped falling asleep in class.

“Your mom was drugging you,” Tilly said, grinning at the wide awake, ice blue eyes that looked back at her.

“Mom? No way.”

“Way way,” Tilly said. “My sandwiches made you better.”

James kept getting distracted by a crying girl behind them. Tilly rolled her eyes. “Sandy’s dog died last night. She reckons it was all tore up and bloody but I think she’s just a fibber after attention.”

James took a long look at Tilly. “So, my mum drugs me. What does your dad do?”

Tilly kicked James in the shin and ran away.

***

Tilly’s dad was in the front hall, arguing with someone. Tilly hid under her covers because it was no good when her dad got angry at night. He came anyway and dragged her out. Her arm burned under his grip.

“This woman says you been leading her son astray.”

James’s mom was all white except her puffy eyes. “You made James stop his medication, didn’t you?”

“You mean I stopped you from drugging him.”

“I had to! You don’t understand. It’s safer for everyone this way.”

Tilly’s Dad still had hold of her arm and lifted her till her toes scraped the floor. “You stealing some kid’s pills, little beast?”

Tilly hissed at him like a feral cat. Her arm was ready to pop from its socket but she refused to cry.

“Making strange women come round at this hour to complain about you, you’re nothing but trouble.”

Her dad’s hand met Tilly’s cheek in a loud smack and James’s mom looked horrified. Her eyes widened further when a mournful howl came from the yard.

The front door thumped and the house shook. The crackle of snapping wood made Tilly’s dad curse and drop her. The door burst apart and a hairy creature filled the space, silhouetted against the full moon.

Saliva dripped from an army of gleaming teeth. Jaws snapped and snapped again, closing on the soft flesh of necks. Claws raked, crushing bone, and bodies fell around Tilly, bloodied.

Tilly closed her eyes until she felt hot breath on her cheek. She opened them to see ice blue eyes staring back at her. Tilly brushed a shaking palm down the wolf’s furry neck and he licked her cheek with a rough tongue.

Tilly matched James’s howl, and the two wild things ran away together into the night.

How to Publish Your Book, Your Way.

It’s the one great question that hits anyone the minute they finish writing their first book-

What the heck do I do with it now?

If you’re a storyteller, you’re no doubt going to want to share your story. There are two ways you can get your story into the hands of readers.

  1. Try to get a traditional publishing house to take on and publish your book
  2. Self publish your book

In the past, self publishing has had stigma attached to it. It was the realm of “vanity press” (people who just wanted their book in print to feel good about it and boast to family or friends).

These days, self publishing is a respected, massive, and thriving industry.

I self publish all of my own books. I still believe there is some benefit in both options, and there are many “hybrid” authors who keep some rights to self publish their books and sell some rights to traditional publishers as well, getting the best of both worlds.

Not sure which direction is right for you? Here is a fantastic site with statistics about author earnings through different channels that might help you decide- http://authorearnings.com/the-report/

Because I self publish, I’m going to talk mostly here about that option. First, I’ll give a very brief rundown of how to get published by a traditional publishing house.

Traditional Publishing


Traditional publishing is a way to go that means the author doesn’t have to pay for any expenses themselves, and can stick just to writing. On the negative side, it will take much longer for your book to reach readers, and may not be given the same chance to find readers as you could do on your own.

  1.  Polish your manuscript- make it something a publisher will want to publish
  2. Write and polish your synopsis/sales pitch and query letter. You need something that will stand out in a crowd to get an agent or editors attention (there are sites and forums that will help with this, do some searching)
  3. Start submitting your query letter and synopsis to Literary Agents and/or direct to publishers and editors in publishing houses. Use a service like http://querytracker.net/ to find them and keep track of results.
  4. Wait. It could take months or years for someone to want to represent your story.
  5. Keep submitting. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep waiting.
  6. When and if you are offered a deal, be sure to read your contract carefully, looking at things like duration and non-compete clauses that could cripple your chance to publish other books.
  7. Understand that even when your book has been accepted by a publisher, it could take years before it hits stores.
  8. The publisher will organise and pay for all editing, design work, and distribution. Under a traditional deal the author NEVER should have to pay for anything! The agent and publisher pay YOU. If they are asking for any money, it could be a scam, or generally a bad deal.
  9. You will still need to do marketing, promotion, and platform building for yourself as an author.

Doing it yourself


Self publishing is a great option for people who love projects and love having total control. It will mean you will need some start up money, and it will mean that success or failure is all in your own hands- you won’t have a publisher to help you, although you will find the self publishing community of authors very helpful!

  1. Polish your manuscript- you still want it the best it can be!
  2. Edit your manuscript- this includes a content edit (make sure the story structure is right), line edit (make sure your prose sounds right) and copy edit (catch all those last little typos). This will be a service you will need to pay for. A common complaint from readers is that self published books can be poorly edited. Don’t be one of those books.
  3. Get cover art designed- unless you are a professional designer, hire one. Books are judged by their covers, so don’t publish with an unprofessional cover. Need it cheap? Search for “premade ebook covers” and grab something for as low as $30.
  4. Format your book for ebook and print. You can hire people very reasonably to do this, or learn pretty easily how to do it yourself.
  5.  Upload your formatted books to all the FREE distribution services out there. These services sell your book for you, and give you a percentage of every sale (taking a cut for themselves of course). Here are the big ones for ebooks-
    1. Kindle Direct Publishing– Amazon’s ebook publisher. The biggest ebook option out there.
    2. Nook Press– Barnes and Noble’s ebook publisher. You may need to be in the US for an account with them, but don’t worry there are other options.
    3. Kobo– another major ebook distributor.
    4. iBooks on iTunes is also important, as is Google Play ebooks. (Learn how to publish to Google Play here)
    5. Not in the US, and think this is a lot of places to sign up to? Well there are second tier distributors that will distribute your ebook to those places for you (for another small cut!). The two leaders are draft2digital.com/ and Smashwords.com
    6. For paperback, the leading Print on Demand distributors are CreateSpace.com (Amazon’s service) and Ingram Spark/Lightning Source.
  6. Your books are now live and available to readers. Write more, advertise, learn how to be a professional author or just sit back and see what happens, it’s up to you!

How much will all that cost you to do on your own? You CAN do it all for free, but it’s not recommended. Unless you’re a professional designer and editor yourself, those are two services you really should pay for. Here is a good site with some self publishing budget options listed in more detail- http://writerlycommunity.azurewebsites.net/how-much-does-it-cost-to-self-publish-a-book/ 

How do you find all those professionals and services? There a list here that can get your started- http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,123703.0.html

And here’s another great list for helpful links for authors- http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,149935.0.html

What’s this KBoards place I keep linking to?


Kindle Boards is an online forum for all things kindle. It’s most active section is the Writers Cafe, which is a place where authors hang out to help each other and share tips. It’s mostly self published authors, and most of the discussion revolves around the business of publishing, rather than the craft of writing. It’s an amazing place to learn and there are many professional authors there who share their wisdom- http://www.kboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html 

 And that is my very brief, simplified run down of what it takes to get your story published and available to readers.


If you intend to publish your book in any way, what I’ve described is just the tip of the iceberg. You will have a lot to learn, especially if you intend to make writing a career. Hopefully my quick outline above will give you some idea of how to get started.

Free Short Story – Emotionally Scared – Empath Chronicles

A short story from Selina’s Empath Chronicles series, FREE for your reading pleasure…

 Emma has been bullied her whole life. Her supernatural ability to sense other people’s emotions makes their cruel words even more painful. When Emma changes schools she hopes things will be different, but a prank and a risky plan turn into a life or death situation. Emma will discover she has more power than she thought, but will she use it for good? 

Emma is a character from my novella Emotionally Charged, and this the story of her past. It may cause some spoilers for Emotionally Charged if you read this first.

Want to read this on your ereader? It’s available as an ebook through most ebook retailers.


I wish I could use magic to stop people staring at me, or enchant myself to be beautiful, but the magic powers I have are different. I’m not really a witch, no matter what the other kids call me. I’m not a superhero either, even if I do have special powers. Heroes aren’t ugly.

The lime-green shade of my new school’s corridors set my teeth on edge. Everyone watched me, and why wouldn’t they? I was the new girl with a target right on her face. My sneakers squeaked as I walked and I felt so completely conspicuous. Cruel laminate flooring. My own body betrayed me as well. I was taller than most girls, which just made me easier to spot. I wanted to love my bright red hair but I hated that it attracted attention to my face.

The other students stared openly at me and gossiped as they pretended to poke through their lockers. A tide of emotion followed their stares, the usual mix of sympathy and disgust that I was used to. That was my superpower — to sense how people were feeling, so strongly that I felt their emotions burrowing into my pores. I hated it. I hugged my new textbooks close to my chest and tried to ignore it.

Chin up, Emma. Don’t let them get to you. You’re beautiful on the inside. You’re special and important, no matter how you look.

I tried to believe that my outer appearance didn’t matter and that real friends would like the real me despite how I looked. But I was smart, smarter than most kids my age, and it made them think I was even weirder. My intelligence made me as much of a target as my face. I tried to act like everyone else, dress right, talk right, do all the right things. I had gone from being a child prodigy down to a C average. I stuffed tests on purpose, half-hearted my assignments, and worked harder on giggling mindlessly, and pretending I actually like music where dudes sing about their sexy bitches. Anything to just fit in.

It didn’t work.

This year was supposed to be better. Operation: New Me. I finally convinced my parents to let me change schools. Well… by convinced, I mean I was expelled from my last school when I got into a fight with this girl who kept calling me names. I had a weird adrenaline rush and broke her arm. Oops.

A little extra begging on top and my parents finally let me have the mole, the bane of my existence, removed. The mole that had made me the brunt of bullying my whole life. This was no cute beauty mark, oh no, but a brown blob of ugly flesh that covered half my chin. That’s why I was called a witch at my last school. Marked by the devil, dribbling sewage, fecal face; I heard it all from the other kids.

My life was a living hell. If they also knew I could read their emotions like some kind of freak…

But all that changed. I was going off to a new school, and in between, I’d have the mole removed. Then it was meant to be like in the books, where a group of great friends would adopt me and the hottest guy in the school would fall for me. I wouldn’t be teased. I would be happy.

The whole plan plunged into epic fail. My plebian parents didn’t realize I needed a proper cosmetic surgeon for the work, to actually make my face look like the mole was never there. Sure the doctor removed the mole, but in its place he left a jumbo pink scar like a deformed fetus.

Determined to be positive anyway, I came to this new school with a plan. I dressed up, smiled, and waited for people to ask, wow, where did you get that scar? And I would tell them crazy cool tales of my heroism, saving a baby girl from a pit bull attack, only to have a chunk of flesh bitten off my face. I’d say it was nothing, I did what I had to do to save a child. Beloved school heroine, here I come!

Except I didn’t have a chance.

Someone knew someone from my previous school and gossip of my mole, and the botched removal attempt, became the new school joke. It took no time for mortifying “before and after” photos to make the rounds, and the fact that I’d lied about how I got the scar turned everyone against me. Not one student would even talk to me. Their hateful emotions seeped into me like poison, chilling my veins, making me ill.

I hadn’t escaped.

I wish I could turn my powers off, to just ignore all those emotions for just a second. Or turn them back the other way and make everyone else know how I was feeling. Because right now, walking down this school corridor with my chin up pretending to smile was the hardest thing in the world.

My eyes stung. No way, if I cried in the middle of everyone, it was all over.

I turned to face the wall and got lucky. There was a notice board right there, covered in fluoro fliers for me to pretend to read while I got myself under control. There were fliers for cheerleading try-outs, chess clubs and the whole spectrum of other cliques that wouldn’t take me.

Just breathe.

The corridor stank of bleach from a recent cleaning. If anyone saw my eyes damp and asked if I was OK, I’d say my eyes were sensitive to the chemicals. I always had an answer for everything. I just needed someone to ask.

I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, Rafael, who I’d already identified as the most handsome guy ever, was leaning next to me. He had one elbow against the wall and his hand played with his sun-bleached hair. I don’t blame him; my hands would love to do that, too.

Rafael had the looks of a 1950’s movie star and he knew it. He played it up, wearing a leather jacket with turned-up collar like he was James Dean and said things like doll, daddy-o, and swell. Yeah, I’ve been eaves-stalking. Just a bit.

And here he was next to me, looking at me. What was going on? I scanned my surroundings for hidden cameras.

“Since you’re new, I’ll give you some advice.” He spoke in my ear, closer than I’m used to anyone getting. I shivered.

“Advice?”

“Don’t join the chess club,” he said.

I let what must be a dumbfounded expression stay on my face and spoke slowly. “But… the checkered boards are so pretty, and I like the little horsies.”

Rafael looked at me like I was a poor dumb girl and I worried I’d missed my shot. I raised an eyebrow dramatically, hoping he got the point.

A moment passed, then he chuckled at my joke and I let out a massive sigh. Internally. Externally, I kept my cool and gave a flirty-yet-coy grin. I was stupidly proud of myself. Maybe I could do this. I could be funny and charming and fab-u-lous. I was beautiful on the inside, and he would be the first person to see. And really, I’d kick ass in chess club, but I’d never let him know that.

“I’m Raf. That’s the other important thing you need to know, new girl.”

“Emma,” I said. I extended a hand to shake his, leaving just one to hold up my books. They shifted, almost fell, and I rebalanced them in a way that squished my boobs up into prominence.

“Oops!” I giggled as though I hadn’t done the whole thing on purpose. His smile in return was hungry, almost predatory. I could sense the lusty excitement in him, but also something chilling, a darker emotion hidden under his grin.

“Careful, you’ll need those, for, you know, learning.”

“No problem. I can shake hands and balance books. Get me a job in the circus, I have the skills.”

The bell rang. Too soon… I didn’t want my time with Rafael to end. This was the nicest anyone had ever been to me and my heart raced with hope and confusion and the close proximity to hottest guy in the world.

Rafael sighed as the bell finished clanging. “Better move. I don’t want to get you in trouble on your first day.”

Right. I’d been here two weeks. Well, he’s noticed me now at least. I had to give him a reason to remember me. Dare I?

“I don’t mind getting into trouble sometimes, if it’s for a good enough reason.”

Raf bumped his shoulder into mine. “You’re a firecracker, aren’t you? Say, you want to meet up after class? Hang out?”

My lips trembled. “Sure.”

“Come to Siren’s Haven. You know it?”

I nodded, casually, like I went there all the time. Siren’s Haven was an abandoned set of a failed pirate movie, still standing down by the river. I knew all about it because Dad was big into collecting movie props. Tacky replicas mostly, but real stuff too when he could.

“See you there at six, at the main pirate ship. It’ll be a gas.” Rafael winked at me then headed off down the corridor.

This was too good to be true. I hated that I doubted this, doubted that there could be anything about me he’d find attractive. I was about to split apart, torn between hope and suspicion.

Too jittery for class, I skipped out, went to the girl’s bathroom, and did the Snoopy Dance.

 

~*~

 

Between when I talked to Rafael and the time for our meet up, everything changed. I almost didn’t go. I almost curled into a ball of sobbing tears never to face the world again. Then I came up with my plan.

I took so long trying to decide what to wear that I risked being late. I ended up staying in what I wore to school that day: sneakers, black stockings with enough carefully manufactured runs to look every-day, short shorts, and an oversized dusty-red sweater. I’d spent long enough picking it out in the morning anyway and I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard by having an all new outfit on. All I did was change my bra. I also had other preparing to do, and the loose-fitting sweater worked well with my plan.

Twilight lit the fake pirate town, turning grayed wood and dusty weeds varying shades of lilac. I squeezed through the hole in the chain link fence and when my top snagged on one of the cut wires I had a mini panic attack while getting my outfit in order again, covering up what the sweater hid.

I couldn’t lose the shakes that had been with me since my conversation with Rafael. They only grew as I made my way to the half-built pirate ship, propped up on blocks down the path. Used spray-cans littered the road like a rainbow and I kicked them along to try and distract my nerves.

Siren’s Haven had been abandoned a year ago when issues with actor contracts tanked production. They closed up shop and left it all standing while they tried to get back on track, but in the meantime it had become a playground. I climbed up the weathered wooden ladder onto the ship’s deck. Empty beer cans lay scattered around the remains of fires. A couple of old lounges had been dragged in. All the signs of a regular party destination for parties I never got invited to.

Rafael waited for me, reclining on top of a cluster of barrels like a real swashbuckler.

“Hey, sweet cheeks.” He rolled onto his side, shifted over, and patted the spot next to him.

“Hey.” I strolled across the deck and paused at the barrels. A foam mattress had been thrown on top of them. It made squishy noises when he moved. Ew.

“Come on, don’t be shy.” Raf patted the mattress again and its moldering stench reached me. “No pressure, I’m not going to try anything. I’m a gentleman.”

I already knew how untrue that statement was. But even still, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some dumb part of me still hoped that what I’d overheard wasn’t true. For the part of me that despite everything hadn’t yet turned bitter, I had to let this play out.

“Can I admit something?” My voice quavered, but that was ok, I was aiming for cute and vulnerable. But really I was super nervous about what was going to happen. “I haven’t been here before. I want to have a look around. Can you show me?”

“A tour? Sure, doll, sure.” He hopped down onto the deck with a smooth jump.

The wood squeaked in warning under us, fragile and not meant to have lasted this long. Rafael put an arm around my shoulder and led me to the prow. I hadn’t expected him to touch me. My heart thudded. If he had put his arm around my waist the game would have been over.

From the prow of the ship you could see the whole film set. There were mermaids carved into the front wall of the pirate bar (which, like most of the buildings, only had a front wall). Tall grass sprouted everywhere, even from the façades themselves. There was a fake rock pool to our left, and the place might have been pretty if it weren’t crumbling and trashed.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Raf breathed heavily into my ear. “But not as beautiful as you.”

Where did this guy get his lines? I hated that they still made my heart race, even though I had no reason to believe him. Before I could mutter the obvious denial, he kissed me.

It was a small kiss on my temple, soft and a little cheeky. I lost my breath.

“Hey,” he said, and turned me toward him. I let him move me as he wished. He smiled down at me and it was a beautiful smile. His emotions told me how excited he was. Excited, and smug.

He whispered in my ear. “Take your top off for me.”

The last fine cobweb of hope I’d clung to snapped. I knew this was coming, but I clung anyway, and now I felt myself fall. I could stop this and leave now, or I could follow through with the plan I had stupidly dreamed that I wouldn’t have to use. Rafael saw my pause and misread my internal conflict.

“It’s OK, you’re beautiful. I just want to see you.”

I nodded slowly and grabbed the bottom hem of my sweater, lifting it up over my head.

I heard the cla-click sound effect of his camera app as I dropped my sweater to the ground.

The hidden camera finally revealed.

He held up his phone, admiring the photo he had taken. “Grade-school underwear, much?”

I had changed out my nice bra that afternoon for a plain black sports tank that covered as much of me as possible. I came prepared. I reached around to the back waistband of my shorts while he examined his photography.

He stood there, still pointing the phone at me, playing his cruel trick.

And I stood, pointing a gun right back.

Checkmate.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” He took a clumsy step back and looked around as though there’d be someone to save him.

“I knew. I knew what you had planned!”

After he first talked to me and I danced like a happy fool, thinking he actually wanted me, the fear that it couldn’t be true took over. So I went to find Rafael, to follow him and find out more. I knew there had to be something going on with him, and I daydreamed that he just had some cool, dark secret that only I could know, like he had freaky powers too, or he really was from the 1950’s. Instead it turned out that he was simply a jerk.

“I heard you talking to Gavin. Saying you had me eating out of your hands, and you were going to get a photo to blackmail me with to make me do whatever you wanted.” I jabbed the gun at him as I talked, my voice growing louder.

“I knew about it all, and even then, I still hoped maybe you were just saying that to your guy as a cover but you really did want…”

I shook my head. I had to stop saying stupid stuff in front of him, as though I were still waiting for him to reveal he cared for me.

No. I had my plan. I knew this was coming, despite any crazy hopes I held. I came here knowing what I would do so that I’d come out of this on top either way.

“Throw your phone over,” I said.

He did, and I deleted the photo of me.

Rafael trembled visibly. His expression was frozen but with my powers, his fear was tangible to me. He had his hands raised in front of him. I pulled out my phone and flicked on the camera. Set it to video and kept the gun aimed at him with the other hand.

“I want you to tell the world, Raf, what a jerk you are. A horrible bully. Come on, I’m easy pickings, right? Go for the girl with the mangled face, why don’t you.”

His jaw moved, but he said nothing.

“Say it!”

“I… I’m a jerk, and a bully.”

“You are. You take advantage of girls. Say it.”

“I take advantage of girls.”

The fear flowing off him made me giddy. I hadn’t felt such an intense emotion before and it filled me with energy. A grin spread on my face.

“You’re nothing but a small-dicked, derivative, misogynistic coward…”

He repeated me on cue.

“Who is about to die.”

I squeezed the trigger and Rafael twisted like he could dodge a bullet. He couldn’t even dodge the spray of water shooting from the gun. Working replica water pistols formed a large part of my Dad’s prop collection.

Not all the wet on Rafael was from the gun. His pants were soaked. I giggled as I turned the video off on the phone and slipped it into my shorts pocket.

“Wow, a better performance than I could have hoped for. Now listen carefully, Mr. Popular. You’re going to be my new bestest friend at school. You’ll help show everyone how fab-u-lous I can be. Because if you don’t, I will show everyone who you really are.”

My plan complete, I turned to strut away, the proud victor.

I felt the change before I saw anything. The fear gushing from Rafael shifted to blinding fury. The heavy sound of footfalls charged at me.

He shoved me hard from behind and I landed on my face. The aged wood deck grazed my hands, turning them into splinter pincushions. I rolled onto my back, looking up at him. The anger on his face was terrifying, the strongest anger I’d ever sensed.

“No one is going to see that video, ugly bitch!”

He reached down, grabbing at the pocket of my shorts.

I wrestled against his hands, swatting him away.

“No way are you blackmailing me. You’re going to suffer.”

He slapped me in the face.

Something strange was happening with my powers. I felt Rafael’s anger flow down onto me, bathing me, seeping into my muscles and warming them. I felt strong, the same strength I felt when I broke that girl’s arm. The splinters didn’t bother me. My cheek felt hot where Rafael had slapped me, but didn’t sting. I felt powerful.

Rafael swung at me again and I knocked his arm away easily. He pulled back, shocked, and nursed his arm where I hit it.

I knew then I was stronger than him. My powers had always felt like a curse before, but now I realized they were something more. I was something superhuman.

I leapt onto my feet, grinning and staring Rafael down. He shied away from me.

That’s where I should have left it. I should have made some witty comment, and walked away. But my hands balled into fists, wanting more fight. With this strength running through me I felt out of control. I wanted revenge for every painful word or look I’d ever suffered.

I kicked high and hard, hitting Rafael right in the centre of his chest.

He flew backward, like he was wired up for a movie stunt.

I was a witch after all.

Rafael hit the figurehead at the prow of the boat with a sound that made me feel sick. I instantly regretted lashing out, and went to help him up, to make sure nothing was broken. Even if he was a jerk, I hated myself for being so violent.

I took one step and a squealing groan came from the ship, followed by popping and cracking noises of wood splitting. I felt the deck shudder, and knew the ship would fall.

I looked at Rafael, groaning as he tried to get back on his feet. My body screamed with energy. I felt strong, fast, and confident, like I could reach him, throw him over my shoulder, and leap to safety in time. But he was so far away, all the way at the other end of the ship, where I had kicked him to.

The ship lurched to the side as the hull split open and I ran. I leaped over holes that tore open in the deck. Something huge fell into my field of vision and I saw the main mast collapse down into my path, right in front of me. Unable to handle my new speed, I slammed into it and rolled to the side. My momentum spun me too fast and I fell from the side of the ship, tumbling to the ground.

Coughing dirt, all I could do was watch as the pirate ship collapsed in on top of Rafael.

 

~*~

 

I bolted away from Siren’s Haven before the dust settled. I had to sneak back inside so my parents wouldn’t see that I’d lost my sweater and come home half-dressed.

It wasn’t my fault. It was my fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was my fault. My brain was stuck in a loop of guilt and denial. There were too many variables, but I knew one thing—if I had held back, if I hadn’t let my anger loose, Rafael might still be alive.

I deleted my video of Rafael for fear it could be used as evidence against me. I fretted about the sweater I’d left behind and hoped it would be considered just another piece of trash, not a clue to a crime. I plotted various excuses and alibis for if I was questioned. I had answers for everything.

But no one came for me.

A week later, I went to the funeral.

The grief I felt from Rafael’s family ached, pounding into my skull, and I told myself it was the punishment I deserved. But not everyone grieved. Two rows in front of me, gleeful relief came from a small huddle of girls from school. I wondered what Rafael had done to them, whether they were on a long list of blackmail victims. I tried to cheer myself up by pretending I was a hero who saved those girls from Rafael’s conniving schemes. But it didn’t work. No matter what he did, I knew he didn’t deserve to die. Heroes bring people to justice, not beat them up and fail to save them.

After the ceremony, I wandered through the crowded church, exploring the mix of emotions held by the funeral-goers. Some kids from school just thought it was cool to be there, since Rafael was so popular. His death made big news, and parents were already lobbying to have the “death trap” film set demolished. They all believed it was an accident, and nothing could have been done. I was the only person who knew that wasn’t true. My brain played through hundreds of alternate endings for the night if I’d made different choices. I wish it would stop. I couldn’t take back the choices I’d made.

There were a couple of guys I didn’t know drifting through the funeral crowd, taking donations for some vague anti-teen-death charity. They looked like brothers. Both had the same cute, roguish charm. Their faces showed commiseration, but my powers told me they felt smug, the same kind of smug Rafael had felt as he pulled his trick. I wondered just what trick these two were up to. Every single person gave them money. I watched with interest from a quiet corner.

Gavin, Rafael’s best friend and blackmail confidant, found me there.

“You were with him, weren’t you?” His voice was a growl.

I acted shocked. “Me and Rafael? Why would he have been somewhere with me?”

“I know he was going to meet you. You had something to do with him dying, I know it. You’ve been acting weird all week. Why were your hands all scratched up? What happened?”

He loomed over me. I saw anger in him, bubbling under his skin like the glow of lava. But now I knew what I could do with someone else’s anger. I couldn’t let him reveal to anyone I was with Rafael that night. I had to scare him off and I had the power to do it.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I drawled. I rested a hand on the crossbar of a stone crucifix next to me. “But whatever happened to him could happen to you too if you don’t keep quiet and leave me alone.”

I squeezed my grip and the stone crumbled like chalk. The patter of the pieces falling to the floor was covered by the talking crowd. Gavin looked at me like the freak I was. My demonstration clearly had the desired effect.

Gavin ran away, leaving me with my regrets. Was I really a witch, or a monster? Was that the path I was fated for, using my powers for evil? I started to wonder how much I could achieve with my newfound abilities. Maybe, one way or another, I could still turn my life around.

The older boy with the donation bucket stared at me. I stared back, waiting for him to glance to my scar, be disgusted and turn away. My glare was a challenge.

But instead he smiled.

He came over and introduced himself. He name was Jake, and he was there with his little brother Jamie. They’d read about the funeral in the newspaper and came to see what donations they could get for their own “charitable cause”.

“I saw what you just did,” Jake whispered, dramatically low considering no one was interested in our conversation anyway. He kicked at the broken stone on the floor and raised his eyebrows.

“I didn’t do anything. It was dodgy craftsmanship, broke on its own.”

“You’re a fast thinker, too. Perfect,” he said. “Don’t worry, I know what you can do, because I can do it, too. I’m so glad I spotted you. It’s rare to find someone special, like us. How about we get out of here and talk more. Doesn’t all this sadness give you a headache?”

I couldn’t stop my eyes widening. “You really feel it too?”

Jake grinned. “The emotion reading, the super strength, the whole deal.”

The idea of other people with powers like mine made a strong need for belonging bloom in my chest. My voice sounded way too vulnerable when I asked, “Can you help me understand what I am?”

“Sure. Come with me. I want to tell you how sticking by me will give you everything you ever wanted. Everything that people like us deserve.”

Every nerve inside me ached to go with Jake, my body rebelling against my better judgment. Jake was charming and so handsome it made my palms sweaty. There was something downright supernatural about how tempting he was, but also something wrong and disturbing. I wouldn’t fall for sweet talk again, and could already tell he wasn’t one of the good guys.

I shook my head. “No. Go away. You’re not my type.”

Jake looked stunned. I doubt he got turned down… ever. He stared, assessing me again, his gaze lingering on my face.

He handed me a business card.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A gift, something I’m guessing is high on your wish list. I’ll let Dr Rachenko know you’re coming and to put any work on my tab. I’ve written my number on the back so you can get in touch again when you’ve seen what I can do for you.”

I stared at the card. Dr Rachenko- Discreet cosmetic surgery and enhancements.

Jake tapped the card as I held it in my hands. “Everything you ever wanted starts here.”

Jake called his brother over and the two of them left the building, counting the money they had been collecting from the grieving crowd. Definitely not on the good guy side.

I stared at what Jake had given me, my fingers clenched and shaking around the thin cardboard. Jake had offered me a new life, a new skin, and all I could wonder was what trick he would play on me, what catch this promise held. I couldn’t stand the idea that his offer wasn’t true.

And if the only catch was that I wouldn’t be one of the good guys either, could I do that?

Deep inside I had always wanted to be something good and special, but it seems that I was born to be something other than a hero. I never had that sort of strength in me, the strength to stay beautiful on the inside. Ugliness had crawled inside me, driven in by the cruel words and games of my peers. It sat there, next to the dull ache I felt in my chest whenever my mind replayed the night at Siren’s Haven. A montage it chose to replay often.

I shook the guilt and regret away, denying it. It didn’t matter anymore. I would become beautiful on the outside. Everything I wanted, I would take. I had great plans. Operation: New Me, Mark II would not fail.

The End

 

A few notes about this story


 

When I decided to write Emma’s backstory, I knew that it was going to be the tragic origin of a villain, rather than the normal hero’s tale. That’s the sort of story I’m used to writing, and that we’re all used to reading- a person surmounting all the terrible trials thrown at them to become something better. In my mind, the difference between good people and bad people are the decisions they make in their darkest moments. Not everyone has it in them to rise above, and it’s the ones that fall, that are beaten down, that tragically become villains. That’s the story I wanted to explore in Emotionally Scarred. I don’t want readers to think that Emma’s actions are to be condoned, despite Raphael being not too nice himself. Emma has it in her to become a true super-villain. Will she, or will she have a chance to redeem herself?

Thanks for reading my short story, I hope you enjoyed it. Comment with your opinions below! You can read more about Emma and whether her “Operation: New Me, Mark II” plan succeeds and how she has to deal with what she’s done in other books from the Empath Chronicles series.

Haven’t read Emotionally Charged yet? Grab a copy here on Amazon, or signed direct from me.

 

Self Publishing- Why I did it, how I did it, and how you can too.

Since I released Memory’s Wake, I’ve had an influx of people contacting me interested in self publishing. They want to know what my experiences have been, how I did it, and most importantly, can, or should, they do it themselves.

The opportunities for Self publishing are really exciting right now, thanks to new printing methods and distribution programs that make it super easy to get your book published. This is, of course, a good thing and a bad thing. I’m going to talk through what I’ve learned so far in my self publishing journey.

Why did I self publish?


I wrote a book that I had high hopes for. I don’t consider myself a genius writer, but I believed my writing style to be adequate and the story solid. It had been reviewed and critiqued over and over by friends, other writers, and paid professionals. The impatient part of me wanted to self publish right away so it was available without delay, but I thought I’d serve myself better by attempting to get traditionally published. I approached literary agents to see if any where interested. I had a few that were, who read the full manuscript, but in the end while they enjoyed it, they didn’t feel it was something they could market. I kept trying until I got pregnant, then decided if I didn’t just go ahead and self publish then, it wasn’t going to be available for so long my impatient self might explode. A few months later, my book was released and it’s been a joy having people read it.

What people think of self publishing


Some people are going to assume that because you self published your book, that it isn’t very good. And yeah, there are books out there that were self published simply to fulfil a writers desire to be published, but the book really isn’t of professional standards (or frankly, actually downright awful). Other people don’t even know what it means to be self published and won’t care or notice that your book is self published. I think now more than ever there are a lot of writers making the decision to bypass traditional publishing options and make a serious career from self publishing, and soon the awareness and perceptions of self published work will improve.

What you won’t get if you self publish


You won’t get your books in book stores.  If you distribute your books through the right channels, your book will be in catalogues that book stores can do special orders from if a customer asks. If you do the hard yards and go out yourself to ask local book stores to stock your book they may. But don’t expect customers to be able to buy your books in shops. When people come to you disappointed they couldn’t find your book at a book shop, just let them know where they can get it from, which will be Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online and most other online book retailers, and probably direct from yourself.

What you will get


You will get higher royalty rates per sale self publishing than you will by traditional publishing. I’ve heard that a traditionally published author may get 5% or lower per sale, where self published authors can get up to 70% of each sale for ebooks, and varying percentages for paperbacks (varying because an author can set their own profit margin, which I’ll discuss more up ahead).

What you don’t have to worry about


I worried that if I self published, I’d never be taken seriously if I tried again to get an agent or be published by a big publisher. But that’s not the case. Just look at Matthew Reilly, Amanda Hocking, or Christopher Paolini, who all self published their work before becoming bestsellers and getting taken on by mainstream publishing. If your book is good, there’s always a chance, if that’s the way you want to go. You may even get more chance if your book is well received by self publishing. Amanda Hocking sold over a million copies of her books by herself. Talk about a way to get the attention of publishers.

What is vitally important if you choose to self publish


You know what I said before about some people having bad perceptions about self published work? Producing low quality work (in writing or design) only furthers that perception. It’s important to produce the best quality you can, not only for you, but for the image of self publishing as a whole. If you produce a product that looks “home made” people will read it with preconceptions or dismiss it because it is self published. But if you produce a book of the same quality of mainstream published work, which you can, and should do, readers won’t know or care if your book is self published.

The work you will have to do


The key word in self publishing is SELF. By having someone else publish you, all the hard work of producing your book is done by them, but when self publishing it all falls to you. It doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own, in fact I highly recommend getting help for the key areas of production- editing and design. More on that up ahead…

But producing the book itself is really the easy part. Once the book is out there, it’s super hard to actually get readers to find your work. There are millions of books available on Amazon, more by the hour. How do they find you amongst all that? If you want people to find your book, be prepared to learn how to market it and spend time doing so.

Paying for services


There are a lot of small companies out there who want to help people get self published. There are packages available that polish and package up your book ready for the world. This is a valid option if you’re happy to spend the money, just be sure to shop around as some of these companies can charge disproportionately more than others. But remember, with a little time and effort you really can do most of it yourself, for free. There are some areas I do suggest you hire a professional for, the key ones being editing and cover design. Save your money for those, and consider doing the book layout (interior and ebook) yourself, and definitely don’t pay money for getting your book distributed. It’s the easiest part you can do for free (more on that ehead).

Companies like Createspace also offer paid services to put your books together, alongside the free, DIY service.

TIP! When looking for an editor and cover designer, search specifically for those offering services to self published authors. Some have very reasonable rates. Here is also a great start for finding reasonably priced author services- http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,50419.0.html

Learning How


So all that sounds great and you want to DIY your first self published book. Where do you start? When I first mentioned I was thinking of self publishing, someone recommended this book to me- Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters. I can’t remember who recommended it, but a big thanks to whoever it was! This book is a great starter for those wanting to self publish, and gives great step by step descriptions of all the processes. Since then I’ve learned a lot more, but this was the book that got me going. I highly recommend it!

Ebook options


Publishing as ebooks is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make your work available. Also, the programs that let you do so are totally free! Here are some key programs you will want to sign up for to get your ebooks out-

Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)- https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

PubIt (Barnes and Noble/Nook)- http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com

Smashwords (A service which distributes your ebook to many ebook distributors)- http://www.smashwords.com/

Paperback options


But you want your book in hard copy, don’t you? Yes, getting YOUR book, as a real paper book in your hands is a real thrill! Here the services I’ve tried-

Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/Lulus is probably the fastest and easiest way to get hard copies of your book. Their service is free, quality is great, but they are also the most expensive (price per book), and cost more than others to distribute your book through more than just the Lulu store (eg, to Amazon). Lulu however offer options that some others don’t, like hard cover books and glossy page books.

Createspace – https://www.createspace.com/Createspace is my favourite option for paperbacks. This price per book is really reasonable. They require you to buy and review a hard copy of your book before it’s approved and so take longer to have your book available, but you should be reviewing your book at this stage anyway to make sure it’s right. Createspace also have a very wide distribution network (I believe they charge about $25 for widest distribution options now, but otherwise are free to get your book on Amazon or buy copies yourself). They are a little trickier to work with than Lulu for file formats, etc, but it’s worth getting through it.

Want to see what a Createspace paperback looks like? Why not grab a copy of Memory’s Wake, nudge nudge wink wink.

Lightning Source – https://www.lightningsource.com/LS are a step up in professional quality and distribution again from Createspace. They are a lot harder to work with, even signing up for an account is a long process. But they have (often) the best prices and widest distribution, for those really serious about getting their book out there.

Your baby, out in the world


You go ahead and click the publish button, and your book, your baby is out in the world. Be prepared. When readers do find your book, not everyone will like it. And some will dislike it so much they will leave you bad reviews on Amazon or elsewhere, which you have no control over.  Even the best books get bad reviews. If you get a few yourself, the best advice is to ignore them and write them off as an individuals opinion. Don’t reply or try and talk them around, just move on. If you find you’re getting lots of bad reviews that say the same thing, well, you might have a problem there. Luckily, if you self publish, it’s easy to go back and revise a book that you’ve discovered problems with.

The addiction


Uh oh. Once you’ve got a book released, a craving sets in. You’ll want more, more books in your name, more readers sharing your stories. Self publishing is addictive. Enjoy the ride, and know that the more books you have available, the more chance you have of success!

Have you been considering self publishing? Did this help? Good luck with your self publishing endeavours! 

Starting at the Bottom

I still remember when I first put my art in an online gallery. I was fourteen years old and the whole “internet” thing wasn’t as big back then. Elfwood was already around though, and as a timid amateur artist, I posted the minimum amount of art that was required to actually be eligible for a gallery. I think it was four images. It was scary, and I never thought my art was good enough (I still don’t, but that’s another story!).

(Gah, even the scan is awful!)

I also remember how incredible it was when people started commenting on my art, and liked it. I wanted to draw more (I hadn’t really started painting back then), so I had more for my gallery. I wanted to get better, and with everyone’s encouragement I improved my art, until people started saying, “Hey, you should sell this!”. And I started thinking maybe I could.

I learned how to set up my own website with a store section, and I had just completed a series of goddess artworks that I thought were my best work yet. I put them online for sale and waited. The response wasn’t everything I had hoped for. I was crushed and wondered, what am I doing wrong? Looking back now, I can see SO MANY things I was doing wrong! I was still an amateur, and frankly, a bit clueless. I was on my way but I still had so much to learn. Over the next five years I put everything I had into working out what I was doing wrong, and finding out how to do it right, until I was selling enough to support myself on my art income alone.

It was a long journey, with steep learning curves and a lot of hard work. And now that I’ve started releasing my novels, I suddenly realised something.

I’m back at the bottom again.

Some people might argue that this time I’ve already got a lot of people interested in my work, and I’m lucky to some extent that is true, BUT… Most people are interested in my art, not my writing. And to be honest, being a visual artist making the switch to novel writing, I think a lot of people assume my writing isn’t going to be very good 😉 It’s not just my imagination. More than a few reviews for Memory’s Wake sound like this-

“I’ve known Selina online for a number of years (through our mutual arting), and was a bit hesitant to read the book… But I figured, hey, even if I don’t like the book, I can look at the pretty pictures :)”

“Have to admit was a bit biased as Selina is one of my favorite artists so I was excited to read her work but was also a hesitant but needn’t be.”

“I wanted to like it so much since the author is both a fabulous artist and a fabulous person so I was really glad it did not dissapoint.”

And, again, to be honest, I think people have every right to assume the book mightn’t be great. Because here I am, starting at the bottom again. I’ve got a lot to learn, and Memory’s Wake was my first novel (although I re-wrote it so many times it could almost be considered my 5th novel!).

In some ways it’s fun to be starting at the bottom again. I have become a little jaded in the art scene, but with my writing, I’m remembering the exhilaration of every reader who contacts me to let me know they liked my book. The joy of every single individual sale, knowing that is someone else who will read my story.

There is also terror. I have the same doubts I did when I started out with my artwork. I’m worried I’ve still got SO MUCH to learn. So much work to do ahead of me to get my stories out into the world. There’s a strange pressure when it comes to writing, as everyone is always talking about the next Big Thing (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, anything by Amanda Sold-A-Million-Books-Hocking). It’s almost as though if a book doesn’t break out and become famous, it’s considered a failure. That’s entirely untrue of course, but a writer still feels that pressure. And sure, don’t we all dream of being as rich and famous as JK Rowling?

But then I remember, that I didn’t publish my book to become rich and famous. I published it to share my story. And hundreds of people have now read Memory’s Wake, and enjoyed it. And some of them email me and let me know they enjoyed it and it makes me all happy and glowy inside.

I’ve got many more stories to share, so much more to learn, more to improve. I know my next books will be better and better. That’s the joy of being at the bottom.

So if you’re starting out in a new direction in your life, remember that being at the bottom has as much value as being at the top, or you know, somewhere in the middle, which is where I normally hang out 😉